How was the Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) Developed?

Women have been dealing with fibroids for centuries. And before recent decades, the only way to treat them was by medication or surgery. There was nothing in between these extremes.  Thanks to research by healthcare providers and patients alike, advances in medicine have made it possible to treat fibroids effectively without having to undergo major surgery—and with fewer side effects than ever before.

In our modern times, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is an exciting medical procedure for women experiencing symptoms of uterine fibroids. The procedure is performed in a doctor’s office or specialized treatment center with less pain, as well as shorter recovery time, compared to surgery (typically a hysterectomy). UFE can also be used earlier in the course of disease when your only other option may be a hysterectomy.

uterine fibroids compared to a healthy uterus

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are benign, non-cancerous tumors that grow in the uterus and can cause significant pain, bleeding and other symptoms. The exact cause of fibroids is unknown, but hormones, genetics, age and weight may play a role. Traditionally, fibroid treatment has involved surgery and removal of part or all of the uterus (myomectomy or hysterectomy, respectively). In the last few decades, other less invasive treatments have been developed to relieve symptoms and avoid surgery.

Fibroids are very common, especially in women of childbearing age. They can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and pressure in the pelvis that leads to other problems with bladder control and sexual function. As reported by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, fibroids occur in about one in five women of reproductive age. This number increases to 70-80% of women by menopause (with the highest percentages among women of color).  Although symptoms can sometimes be resolved with medication, many women must seek more invasive treatments. This article details the history of a fibroid treatment that offers a less-invasive option that may help alleviate symptoms without requiring surgery.

The Development of Nonsurgical Treatment

Women with fibroids are constantly searching for effective treatments that can offer relief without surgery. Because of that, promising new developments have emerged and continued medical research has benefited millions of women with an alternative to hysterectomy.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization was first performed in 1974 in Paris. It has been used successfully in Europe for decades. It has been performed in the United States since the early 1980s. Over the years, UFE has continued to evolve with improved technology including more advanced catheters and an increased understanding of how to treat the different types of fibroids that exist.

Over time it has become clear that the UFE can be an effective treatment for the symptoms of fibroids. Studies have shown that 80% of women who undergo the UFE report symptom improvement.

The goal of UFE is to shrink and starve the fibroids by cutting off their blood supply.  They shrink and eventually go away. It may be an option to consider in lieu of a hysterectomy, especially if you want to preserve your ability to have children. UFE is still a fairly new procedure, but it’s been widely used for decades by many doctors due to its proven benefits and fewer side effects than hysterectomies.

We can help you

We have been providing the Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure (UFE) for women in Georgia for years. Our team of highly specialized physicians are trained to provide UFE and other minimally invasive outpatient procedures.  Reach out to us today for a consultation to see if the UFE is right for you.

We always provide a personalized evaluation, treatment, and post-procedure plans, including effective control of any pain from the procedure. Our support continues after treatment with a comprehensive follow up plan. 

Reach out to us today.